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Will the Mariners' quick-strike trade prove to be a good one?
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Will the Mariners’ quick-strike trade prove to be a good one?

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The Mariners brought in rotation-ready starting pitcher Nathan Karns in a six-player player trade Thursday with Tampa Bay. (AP)

Brent Stecker has the nuts and bolts of the 6-player deal between the Mariners and Rays but I wanted to check in from vacation with some quick thoughts on the trade.

Brad Miller, Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar for Boog Powell, Nate Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser. Simple math tells me the Mariners filled three areas of need – a young, athletic outfielder who can play center, a rotation-ready starter, and depth for the bullpen – for a promising young player without an established position, a player with one year of arbitration remaining in a position of depth, and a reliever who struggled mightily last year.

Miller, Morrison and Farquhar were no longer easy fits for the Mariners. Of the three it hurts to lose Miller the most (although I hate losing a great interview and good guy in Morrison), but that is more as potential rather than what he could currently bring the team. He very well could continue to develop into the offensive player that many thought he would be while in the minors, but he wasn’t going to be able to do it at a position he felt comfortable in with the Mariners. Miller saw himself as a shortstop and would be learning on the job in any other position the team put him in next year. Sure it would be great if he turned into the next Ben Zobrist, but that doesn’t happen overnight.

Karns will go right into the rotation, and that is not a reflection of where the Mariners are in their talks with Hisashi Iwakuma. General manager Jerry Dipoto felt they were short in the starting pitching department with or without Kuma so that move is not surprising. Karns, who has five years of club control remaining, is a four-pitch pitcher who averages almost a strikeout an inning. On “Danny Dave and Moore” Thursday evening, Dipoto said that he believes that Karns along with Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker gives the rotation “three elite-level strikeout pitchers.”

Those pitchers could have a young outfielder that Dipoto characterized as “athletic, rangy and a gamer” catching the ball behind them in Powell, but the question is when. He’s only played a half season at the Triple-A level but will be given the opportunity to show the Mariners what he can do in spring training.

“If he makes the team, then it is his time,” said Dipoto. “If he wins one (spot on the roster), great, if not then he is right there in Tacoma ready to go get when we need him.”

In talking to a number of people who have seen Powell, it would seem that at the worst he is very close to being ready for the big leagues. Dipoto, who sees him as a top-of-the-order hitter, said he checks off all of the boxes for what he is looking for.

“We want to play a fast, crisp style of baseball,” he said on 710 ESPN Seattle. “We want to get on base and move runners. We want to create a conga line and move men through and we think Boog can do that.”

Breaking in at the top of the order is not an easy thing to do, but we saw Ketel Marte do it last season. If Powell can have a similar transition, this lineup all of a sudden looks very different with both players in it and could look that way for many years to come. As Jim Bowden on ESPN noted, the Mariners traded players with nine years of club control remaining for 17 years of control.

Control is nice, as is losing a little bit of salary with Morrison projected to earn $4.1 million in 2016, but contribution at the big league level or what they are able to bring back in a future trade is what will ultimately determine if Jerry Dipoto’s first trade with the Mariners is a good one.

The one thing I don’t like is the Mariners are now down a valuable trade piece in Miller as there was a lot of interest in him last winter. It would appear, however, that Dipoto got what he wanted for him.

In the here and now, I like this deal. Not just because of the players who were involved, but because of the position it puts Dipoto in. I love the early strike. Two needs filled, budget still intact. Dipoto has said that he views free-agent signings as the third option in roster building, with trades and development his preferred way to go. Why not target exactly what you want rather than trying to make fit what is easily available (if you have the cash)?

The Mariners still have plenty of needs, but I think Dipoto’s bargaining position is that much stronger with fewer needs in front of him and the budget still, as he said, “an open canvas.” Not a bad start in my opinion.

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